Saturday, August 3, 2002
The sun is coming up and its quiet all around. Or do I just not hear? The curtain in the half-open window is moving slightly. Slowly and with great effort I begin to discern the shapes of objects in the dimness of the room. Or can I not see? My head is somewhat blank. Slovakia - Chopok! Finally a hint of a thought. Yes, and after making an agreement with the organizers I arrived at the Björnson Hotel by the cable car station, Otupné, yesterday afternoon with several times more red wine than last year. Yes, that's it, that's how it was. We drank late into the night, and drank a lot, I'd say. Every educated person knows that Slovakia lies further inland than the Czech Republic, the air here is drier and all drinks, especially alcoholic ones, evaporate much faster here. And who all was here last night? I can't remember. I thought it better not to make notes and the only existing photographic evidence is one picture on which the hotel staff is welcoming the organizers with champagne. Either the IPC Cup Chopok is growing in importance each year, or some devilry is afoot. Sometimes it's better not to know…
After a light morning rain, the sky clears quickly and shortly after noon 31 registered racers are riding the cable car up to Lukova, the top station situated around 1,700 m above sea level, from where they will continue up another 200 meters on foot to the starting ground.
A 37 Km-long discipline is announced at the briefing, with three turning points over Poludnica, Pavčina Lehota, Králova Lehota and a goal in the village of Východná.
Shortly after the opening of the start window at 13:25 Michal Orolin and Peter Hvôrka take off, quickly followed by most of the others. In cold and damp post weather front air, the cloud bases are forming at under 100m over the start and even the first jump over to the opposite crest proves problematic.
While many pilots, including some unnamed favorites, end their flight on the landing zone under the hill by the cottage of Lúčky, others are able to fly at least to the first turning point. Only five pilots get past the 15th kilometer, which is decisive for the admission of validity of today's discipline. Štefan Vyparinov is lacking a pithy 2 kilometers to the goal and Peter Mensak lands about 400 m behind him. The number of pilots that make it past the 15th kilometer does not, unfortunately exceed 20% of the total number of those taking off and today's discipline is declared invalid.
"Refill my chalice you jester...!" someone with an empty glass yells and the supplies of red wine quickly diminish. A keg of beer is tapped behind the Hotel Björnson , chickens are roasting on the grill and smoke from the fire rises into the pitch-black sky, on which millions of stars twinkle in the clear mountain air. The disco in the hotel restaurant stays open and lively until sunrise.
So maybe even the remaining pilots who have preliminarily registered but haven't arrived yet will get here. Could it be the bad weather forecast...?